The Awasi Family welcomes Paula Bertotto…
Where were you born and how would you describe your early years?
I was blessed with a happy and healthy childhood. I was born in Eldorado city, 1.5 hours from Iguazu. My parents settled in the outskirts of the city and as well as working as a professor and a forestry engineer they ran a tomato farm.
On the weekends, my parents would take me and my four siblings into the wild. We would spend entire days by beautiful green rivers and streams, swimming in their unpolluted waters. If there is an image that describes those unforgettable days it would be a quiet stream, with densely forested banks.
At what point did you decide tourism was the profession for you?
My family used to travel a lot. It was customary to spend a whole month travelling every year, and many of these journeys would consist of driving and camping wherever we happened to be when night fell upon us. I remember when I was 12, during a trip in Patagonia, we picked up a couple of French hitchhikers who told us they where tour guides. I thought that I wanted to be like them someday.
What draws you to Iguazu?
When I finished studying tour guiding at university, I worked in different areas of Argentina but none of them had the diversity of species that Iguazú boasts.
Iguazu is the most bio-diverse area in Argentina and it allows me to permanently learn new things about the rainforest. There is always something new to surprise you. There’s always the chance of bumping into a new bird, a new call, a new insect… Surprisingly, one day you get to see flowers or fruit of plants whose existence had gone mysteriously unnoticed before. This is a habitat full of secrets to be revealed.
What would you like Awasi guests to leave saying about our excursions?
I want them to remember how well handcrafted and personalized the Awasi excursions are. I want them to never forget their guides, because they were so warm, respectful and knowledgeable. I want them to recognize how genuine the things they learnt about nature and culture were. I also want them to be aware that their visit has a positive impact by helping preserve local culture and forest.
What part of guiding is most important for you?
For me guiding is not only about knowing the area, but also being able to link our natural and cultural heritage with individual interests. I want the experience to be moving and unforgettable. As a guide, it is important to find the way to surprise our guests, to show them the unexpected secrets that nature and culture reveal. That certainly requires an inquisitive spirit.
Last, but not least, it is important to exceed guests’ expectations in terms of the quality of service, always paying attention to those little details that make a true difference to the big picture.